Sunday I raced in my second 30K, part of the Rogue Distance Festival, which expanded this year to include a half marathon in addition to the 10K and 30K. It was quite a change from last year- the course was quite different, it was earlier in the year, and the weather was about the opposite (cold and windy this time). I went in planning to treat it more as a training run than a race; to that end, even though my time was slower than last year, it felt like a better run. I didn't walk at any point (even though I really wanted to toward the end), and every mile was under 10 minutes. My overall time was 2:45:19, with a split for the first 10K of 55:40. In the "for what it's worth" department, I was 21st in my age group and 154th overall.
Having been humbled by the marathon distance a few times now, particularly my last stand-alone marathon last March, my goal for my next marathon, the New Orleans Marathon on February 2, is relatively modest: to break 4 hours. Since this race includes some of the pacers for the Austin Marathon, my plan was to start with the 4:00 marathon/9:09 mile pacer for a while, then pick up the pace later. I didn't have a specific point that I wanted to break away, but I didn't intend to do so as early as I did. I was right there, a couple steps behind the pacer in a pack for the first two miles. I dropped back a bit at that point to get a cup of water. After a couple sips, I sped up to about 8:45 pace. Once I caught back up with the pacer, I decided to just keep going at that pace rather than rejoin. I realized I didn't like being boxed in with other runners and would rather be more on my own.
I kept going roughly 8:45 for the next six miles, passing the 3:55/9:00 pacer around mile 4. Shortly after I kind of tucked into the draft of a guy going the same pace as me. I didn't really want him to think I was coasting off of his efforts, so after a little ways I picked up the pace a touch and passed him.
It was such a relief to turn and have the wind at our backs at mile 7. I finally took off my headband and my gloves. I was sweating, but my hands were still kind of cold (I put the gloves back on once the wind hit again). I was feeling pretty comfortable (other than a touch of chafing). On a downhill at mile 9, I picked up the pace a little to 8:25 and kept it in that range to the half-marathon mark. From there the wind was a factor again, plus my legs were fatigued and starting to hurt. From there it was pretty much a struggle to hold on and keep from walking.
It got tougher mentally at mile 16. This was the only 2-way section of the course, where people going the opposite direction were at mile 18. Even worse, we were close enough to Cedar Park High School to hear the announcer at the finish line calling finishers' names. I still had enough will to keep from jumping the course and going for the finish; a little later when I could see the school across a field, I was more tempted to cut to the end. The last two miles were painful. There was a woman about 20 meters ahead I would have liked to have caught up to, but couldn't make my legs do it. I felt like I was lumbering at a 10:00 pace, fighting the headwind, in the last mile. I wanted to finish strong, but couldn't get my legs to move any faster until about 200 meters from the finish line, and even then I only crossed at an 8:30 pace.
I got my finisher's medal and went straight to my car to put on my sweatpants and change into a dry shirt and jacket. I went inside for pizza and some stretching. I didn't see anybody I know, so once my legs were working again I headed home. My legs were still pretty sore the next day.